Homestead Man Indicted in BP Claims Fund Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 14, 2012|
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; Henry Gutierrez, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division; Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service; and Richard Walker, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General-Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigation, announced the indictment of Jean Mari Lindor, 31, of Homestead, Florida, for his participation in filing false claims in connection with the Deepwater Horizon explosion and pollution incident in the Gulf of Mexico. More specifically, the indictment alleges mail fraud, wire fraud, and access device fraud, all in connection with fraudulent claims filed by the defendant for lost income against the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341, 1343, 1029(a)(2) and (b)(1), and 2.
Lindor previously appeared in court after his arrest on a criminal complaint related to this conduct, and was ordered detained pending trial as a risk of flight. The case has been assigned to the U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore. If convicted of the charges in the indictment, Lindor faces possible terms of imprisonment of up to 20 years on each of the five counts of mail fraud and wire fraud and up to 10 years’ imprisonment on the three counts of access device fraud.
According to the allegations in the indictment and statements in court, in June 2010, BP established the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) for the purpose of administering, mediating, and settling certain claims of individuals and businesses for costs, damages, and other losses incurred as a result of oil discharges due to the April 20, 2010 explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. In August 2010, the GCCF began receiving and processing claims from individuals and businesses for costs, damages, and other losses they had incurred as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident, paying the claims from a $20 billion Trust Fund established for that purpose.
The indictment alleges that Jean Mari Lindor filed fraudulent claims against the fund, in his own name and in the name of a not-for-profit business he established, called Noula, Incorporated, located in Homestead. According to the indictment, Lindor sought Emergency Assistance Payments of $12,000 and $25,000, respectively, on his personal and business claims.
To execute his scheme to defraud the GCCF, Lindor used the mail and the Internet to open the claims, and to submit required forms and documentation, including employment verification letters and tax return documents. The indictment alleges that the documents Lindor provided in November and December 2010 were materially false in that they represented that Lindor was an employee of an organization in the Florida Keys at the time of the spill and that his hours and income had been curtailed as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident. Those statements were false.
The indictment further alleges that Lindor used unauthorized access devices during the criminal conduct, consisting of the unique GCCF claim numbers assigned to his fictitious claims, and without which he would have been unable to communicate with the GCCF, or cause payments to be issued to them.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service, Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Members of the public can report fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, including the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, through the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Disaster Fraud Hotline at 877-NCDF-GCF (623-3423), the Disaster Fraud Fax at 225-334-4707, or the Disaster Fraud e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.